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14 January 2012 - 10:56

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has left the Ecuadorian capital Quito for Tehran, bringing his five-day tour of four Latin American countries to an end.

Ahmadinejad left Quito on an Ecuadorian Air Force plane headed for the southwestern city of Guayaquil on Friday, from where he was seen off by Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino before his flight to the Iranian capital.

The Iranian president was in Ecuador on the last leg of his four-nation tour of Latin America, during which he also met and held talks with the leaders and senior officials of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

Leaders in all four Latin American nations have enhanced diplomatic and trade ties with Iran in recent years while their relations with the United States have been downgraded amid popular demands for an end to dependence on Washington.

Iran has been seeking to expand relations with Latin American countries over the past few years, describing the endeavor as one of its major foreign policy strategies.

Iran's rising popularity in Latin America has raised major concerns in the United States, which regards the region as its strategic backyard and traditional sphere of influence.

On January 6, the US warned Latin American states against expanding diplomatic and business ties with Iran, expressing concern over “Iran's outreach to the Western Hemisphere.”
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News Code 181379